We're celebrating Adopt a Shelter Cat Month with reduced adoption fees for cats and kittens from June 17th-23rd. Learn more here.

Our professional, certified dog training instructors use their up-to-date, extensive knowledge of humane and effective training methods to teach you how to train your dog. Our training classes offer clear, simple, and fun instruction, along with plenty of practice time with individual coaching. Clip that leash on your dog and come join us!

NEW: Puppy Play & Socialization (ages 2 to 8 months)

Register for Puppy Play & Socialization

Puppy Preschool (ages 8 to 18 weeks)

Register for Puppy Preschool

Canine Kindergarten (ages 4 to 6 months)

Register for Canine Kindergarten

Good Dog! Fundamentals (ages 6 months and older)

Register for Good Dog! Fundamentals

Canine Explorers Workshop

Register for Canine Explorers

Dog Training Class Details

  • The first class for Puppy Preschool, Canine Kindergarten, and Good Dog! Fundamentals is for people only. Please arrive to the first class without your dog to learn behavior and training fundamentals to help you in class when you bring your dog.
  • In-person group classes are held in the Training Room at DCHS (5132 Voges Rd Madison, WI 53718), except for Canine Explorers Workshop, which is held in the Barn at DCHS.
  • A $10 discount may apply if you adopted your dog from DCHS. For the coupon code, please email DCHSdogtrainer@giveshelter.org.

Questions? Please email DCHSdogtrainer@giveshelter.org or call (608) 287-3221.

Virtual Dog Training Partner

Register for GoodPup

Class Participant Testimonials

Canine Explorers Workshop - Oct 23

"I and my Rough Collie London took the Canine Explorers class this past October, and we highly, highly recommend it to anyone seeking to bond with their dog, to find creative ways to move and explore the physical world with your dog, and as creative intro to other dog activities like agility or parkour. First off, the class is positively structured and taught with clear descriptions and some pictures of the obstacles we would be learning about and using. The lead instructor, Sarah, was thoughtful, inclusive, and informational, and her assistants were helpful and personable. Each session was novel and fun, and colorful obstacles were introduced along with warm up and handling activities. It all built, week after week, with all of the dogs and their handlers showing a lot of growth by the end of the third week. My Collie knew each week we were going to this class, and he was happy during and after each week’s lessons. I learned, too, that he is quite good in activities like this, so I will be looking for more to do with him like this. We are urging Sarah to further develop this class to levels 2 and 3 (if possible) and look forward to taking other classes with her and at the humane society." – Stephanie J. Smith, Ph.D., and her Rough Collie London (AKC Grand Champion, certified therapy dog through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, AKC CGC, and TKN)

Training Class Policies

Participants will be asked to agree to the policies below when registering for any DCHS Dog Training Class.

Cancellations

Training class fees are nonrefundable.

Dogs that shouldn't attend classes

Dogs that are aggressive towards people; dogs that cannot safely be controlled on-leash in close proximity to other dogs; and dogs that are unable to stop barking at other dogs for the duration of class are not permitted in class.

Health & Vaccinations

I certify that my pet is current on his or her vaccinations for Bordetella, Rabies, and Distemper, and is currently on a flea prevention program. I also certify that to the best of my knowledge my dog is free of parasites, internal and external, and free of communicable diseases. I agree to NOT BRING my dog to the building or grounds of Dane County Humane Society if I know or suspect that my dog is ill. If my dog is too young to have been given all of these vaccinations, they will be administered at the appropriate age. I will keep my dog current on all such vaccinations, titers or other vaccine-related recommendations made for my dog by my veterinarian, while attending Dane County Humane Society’s classes.

Risk & Injuries

I understand that being around dogs and participating in activities at Dane County Humane Society involves risk of injury to my dog and me. In consideration for being allowed to participate in classes and other dog training activities, I accept these risks. I accept full responsibility for the acts of myself, my dog, and my guests while attending these classes. I understand that Dane County Humane Society cannot be held responsible for any injury caused by me or my dog, or to me or my dog, and I release Dane County Humane Society, its employees, members, and volunteers from all claims of liability, for injury, disease or damage that I, my guests, or my dog may suffer or cause while on the grounds of Dane County Humane Society.

Photo Release

I also agree that Dane County Humane Society may photograph or video my participation in any of the dog or puppy training classes and I hereby release any such photographs and/or videos to Dane County Humane Society for its use in programs, publications and other purposes.

Meet Our Dog Trainers

Nikki Darga, CPDT-KA

Nikki has loved animals for as long as she can remember and dogs have always been a large part of her life. Nikki started training dogs more formally in a competitive obedience setting with her chocolate lab, Kona. Nikki and Kona were able to show for five years, winning many blue ribbons in the process. Nikki has worked with dogs in other capacities, such as at a dog daycare and boarding facility. A certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA), Nikki has been involved with DCHS dog training classes since May 2016. Nikki has a tiny senior Chihuahua named Mabel, several cats and a few other pets that she loves to train and spend time with.

Elissa Chasen, PhD, CPDT-KA, PCT-A

Elissa is a trained scientist at UW-Madison. Educated in agricultural sciences, she is now applying her dedication to learning and skills in observation to dog training.

Elissa began her passion for dog training and behavior in 2017 when she adopted her first dog. She had always wanted a dog that she could take everywhere and do everything with. Within a few months of adopting Bodhi, Elissa realized that her dog had trouble coping with the world around him and she began a deep dive into positive reinforcement-based training methods to help him.

Since then, she has found a calling to help other humans and their dogs so they can better understand each other and work together as a team. She began assisting with dog training classes at DCHS in 2021, graduated from Living and Learning with Animals (LLA) in 2023, and is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and professional canine trainer (PCT-A).

Elissa will always be striving to understand more as science continues to illuminate our understanding of canine behavior and learning.

Caleb Roh, CPDT-KA

Caleb has been working with dogs since he brought home his first dog, Ghost, an Australian Shepherd, in 2017. It was quite the task to bring home an Australian Shepherd as your first dog, and Caleb credits many great trainers with showing him the benefits of training "happy". Caleb has always had an interest in teaching and psychology, so he latched onto dog training quickly, reading every book he could get his hands on. This training philosophy helped Ghost go from being an anxious puppy to a confident dog that is a certified Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog. After years of training with Ghost, Caleb began working at PetSmart, teaching group classes and helping clients live better lives with their dogs. This led to becoming CPDT certified and taking on more responsibility helping various local humane societies with teaching group classes, helping clients, and fostering dogs with behavioral issues.

Caleb is passionate about helping dog parents develop the skills necessary to build a stronger relationship with their dogs informed by his experience of himself previously being an overwhelmed new dog parent with a very restless pup. This includes helping dog parents better understand their dogs body language to interpret how they are feeling and better anticipate how they might act as well as helping clients teach their dogs the necessary "life-skills" such as leash walking, greetings and confidence building, to lead to a more productive and stress-free life for everyone!